Over the years, I’ve reflected a lot on depression. And not just on my own experience with it, but as we respond to it in our society; in general.
I’ve often heard depression described as “cloud cover” (and fittingly so). It is a lot like a pervasive, extensive, heavy mass of fog.
For a quick science lesson: Clouds are composed of wide-reaching sheets of floating ice crystals; that are sometimes visible, sometimes not. Light scatters among these ice crystals, producing the seven wavelengths of color, combining to produce white light.
But often, they appear more gray than white, as they get thicker and further from the earth, and the light doesn’t make it through the mass. As the clouds multiply on top of one another, their hue deepens all the more, & they begin casting shadows everywhere they go.
Aside from depression’s uncanny similarity to the clouds, I’ve also come to understand that (in a lot of cases), it can be just as much of a spiritual issue as it is a psychological one.
It can be not only a spiritual issue, but I’ll go far enough to call it a war —an ongoing, ruthless battle that keeps you covered deep in the trenches.
Please know, I don’t believe being depressed makes a person not spiritual. We’re spirit beings, so we’re always engaged in a realm of the spiritual. I do think of the spirit as something you’re either being continuously filled and renewed in, or something that is supernaturally lacking; starving, even.
[*Further, I’ll add the disclaimer right now, that I speak only from my own experience and observations – I am not a doctor, a psychologist, pastor, or any of that. I wholeheartedly believe that every case and every person is different. There’s environmental, situational, chemical, relational, seasonal, and many other causes of depression. Not for a second do I make light of any level of depression, intend to compare, or to condemn medication, and I most certainly do not withhold talking about the matter. Capichè?]
What I do know, is what His word says, and what I feel the Holy Spirit has imparted on me to share. I also know that what exacerbated my own account with depression was the mental, physical, and spiritual isolation that came with it.
That may sound like a simple fix… like, “Ummmm, can’t you just have like more of a social life? Lighten up, go out more, just have fun!?”
Yeaaa, ok… see, that’s where we make matters worse – [enter cycle of parties, attempted quick fixes, empty relationships, following the status quo, pretending, attempting, hiding].
Let me just tell you, you can be surrounded by people (lots of people), all day long, and still – never feel more not just alone, but straight up lonely.
So no, I couldn’t “just have like more of a social life, lighten up, go out more, & just have fun”.
We take a supernatural, spiritual starvation, and we attempt to satisfy, fill, and fuel ourselves with fleeting, natural, human circumstances.
Don’t get me wrong, building community and surrounding yourself with the right kind of honest, supportive relationships & activities is absolutely vital. Because here’s the thing – depression is just as much of a temptation as is any other sinful nature.
“Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgment.” [Proverbs 18:1]
What the enemy knows is that the further he gets you down, the thicker the fog becomes, and the lonelier he entices you to believe you are.
What the enemy doesn’t realize about “cloud cover”, is he’s only clearing the way for our Savior to do His greatest work. God sees you in your shadows and says, “I am with you.” God sees the small and says, “I will elevate you”.
When we reach back out, accepting his hand, and doing something (literally, anything) about the depression, we break the chains of isolation, of fear, and of spiritual war.
I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism … [Ephesians 4:1-32 ESV]
When we bring that temptation into the light, it loses is power. When you take your emptiness and your aching soul into the promises of His truths, you watch it lose its stronghold over you.
“When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all. He keeps all his bones; not one of them is broken.” [Psalm 34:17-2 ESV]
A relationship with Jesus has never been about sin and temptation anyway. It has always been about victory. Freedom. Change. Renewal. Restoration. Continual beginnings, and always a fresh horizon.
I think the metaphor of depression & cloud cover is all the more testament to my complete obsession with the sky. Because when I look up, I see that in reality, even white clouds aren’t filled with nothing.
As misleading as their lack of color is, they’re actually filled with everything – all the light, all the colors, in their purest form. Their blank, white color is mistaken for emptiness, when in reality, it’s complete fullness.
Not brokenness, but fullness – yes, even like the fullest of clouds.
God is not asking you to fight battles all by yourself. You were never meant to do life alone. His very nature is relational, and as His image-bearers, we’re also in need of community. That means casting out the stagnate isolation, and taking off the masks, one day at a time.
Get involved somewhere. Go after what makes you come alive. Go confide in someone trustworthy.
It’s having the real conversation, asking the hard questions, and being ok with giving the not-so-fun answers. When shared amongst those you can trust, your vulnerability fuels their vulnerability.
And if you still feel nothing, don’t lose hope. Keep seeking.
“Do not despise these small beginnings, the Lord rejoices to see the work begin”. [Zecharaiah 4:10]
I battled depression for years, and at times, it’s still a daily choice to overcome it. I once remained so isolated at heart, so numb in thought that it’s often hard to remember the excruciating details of it all.
And yet, it’s not always about what happened, but what’s happening. It’s about His sanctifying journey of a lifetime.
He’s quieted my inner critic and anxiety enough to hear His truth and feel His peace – even in the midst of my doubting and unknowing. I’ve had to work really hard at these levels of openness, sharing, relatability, accountability, and yes…true vulnerability. They’ve never come willingly to my stubborn, competitive, perfectionist self.
I used to think my heart was breaking constantly, and now I know it’s just widening; opening itself up to give & receive more of His love.
So trust me, you will experience His presence. You will stop falling, and you will start rising. Yes, you. You will r i s e in love–over and over. Your season(s) of testing will soon exist only as the greater part of your testimony.
“Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him as he is.” [1 John 3:2 ESV]
So, although gray clouds may forecast storms, even they hold within them incredible coverage and promise. They’re the safe-guarding from our Lord and Savior who, when the storms of life arise, instruct us to keep our minds and emotions as still as possible.
Choose to see your shadows not as darkness, but as the divine protection and provision for greater lessons and new-found strength to come.
“…For in you, (O God), my soul takes refuge; in the shadows of your wings I will take refuge, till the storms of destruction pass by. … God will send out his steadfast love and his faithfulness.” [Psalm 57:1 ESV]
“For your steadfast love is great to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds.” [Psalm 57:10 ESV]
NEVER MISS A WORD
Sign-up as an Insider to receive updates on new posts, fresh faves, and a regular dose of encouragement - straight to your inbox. Love, yours truly.